Testing on apes ‘might be needed’

From the BBC »

Testing on apes ‘might be needed’

“Ministers should not rule out the possibility of allowing apes to be used in experiments, the head of the Medical Research Council has said.

In 1997, the government said it would never approve ape research because they were too similar to humans, but there is no law prohibiting the practice.

Professor Colin Blakemore said such research was “essential” if it was the only way to cure a particular disease.

Animal welfare groups want a ban on all primate testing in Britain.

Prof Blakemore’s comments came as campaigners for and against animal testing staged two separate protests in the row over Oxford University’s new £20m animal research laboratory.

Supporters of animal testing are holding a rally in Oxford, while anti-vivisection campaigners are demonstrating in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire.

Currently 2,800 primates are used in medical research, but the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences are assessing whether genetically modified rats and mice could be used instead. “

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